In August, when Animal Control Officer Brent W. Sellew arrived at 231 Stafford St., he found a 12 year old husky named Nikkia chained to a dilapidated wooden doghouse behind the apartment building. The poor dog was covered in flies and “in extreme pain because of maggot infestation, both externally and in the area of its anus, according to a report filed by Joseph L. Cadrin, an abuse and cruelty investigator for the Worcester Animal Rescue League”

The smell was so bad that Officer Sellow vomited.

Owners of Nikkia, Rebecca Cook and son, Arthur Mantham were in court this week to be sentenced for the horrific cruelty the dog suffered at their hands and it was yet another slap on the wrist sentence.

Although the animal cruelty charges against each of them could have carried a potential sentence of up to 5 years in state prison or up to 2-1/2 years in the House of Correction, and-or a fine of up to $2,500, it was Dudley District Court Judge Neil G. Snider’s decision that the charge was continued without a finding for 18 months with supervised probation.

Basically a “continued without a finding” is something like an Alford plea, no admittance of guilt but there is enough evidence that they could be found guilty. The case will be dismissed upon successful completion of probation. If it is not successfully completed, a hearing will be held and a judge could revoke the continuance, find them guilty and impose any sentence.

They also have to on a monthly basis, pay $65 or perform eight hours of community service and the community service cannot be associated with animal. On top of that, they also have an extra 25 hours each of community service, must pay $500 restitution to the Animal Rescue League for Nikkia’s hospitalization and treatment costs, and $90 each in victim-witness fees. They also cannot have to take care of any animals aside from a currently owned cat which can be checked on at any time.

Of course their lawyer complained that the sentence was too much and argued that it was a case of neglect rather than intentional harm. He said that client had suffered from all the hate mail and phone threats.

And I loved the come back from the Judge! Judge Snider asserted their suffering was “not as much as that dog suffered.”

I, of course, would have liked to have seen a harsher sentence but seldom do I ever expect it anymore. As far as probation sentences go though, this one is pretty good when you add it all up, especially that they cannot possess or care for animals.

“I don’t know what the public outcry is going to be,” Officer Cadrin said. “They want these people to go to jail. We can’t control that. It’s up to the court and judge, and I thought the judge was terrific today, putting the point across to them.”

Maybe not terrific, but I have definitely heard worse! What do you think?

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